Earlier this year, an antibacterial baby lotion sold in China was pulled from shelves after it caused a five-month-old to balloon in weight and grow excess facial hair.
Subsequent tests showed a high concentration of a potent steroid had been illegally added to the product, causing side effects in more than 80 babies, 10 of whom suffered severe symptoms.
Such incidents, coupled with the growing demand for children’s cosmetics, pushed China’s National Medical Products Administration (NMPA) to develop a new regulatory framework designed to safeguard children.
“From the draft to the finalise the version, there were only four months – it is the fastest one in the CSAR subsidiary regulations. We can see how strong the determination of NMPA was to rectify the issues with the children’s cosmetics markets,” said Hedy He, a cosmetic regulatory analyst with Chemlinked.
She expects the authorities to tighten the rules even further moving forward, especially since the market for children’s cosmetics is continuing to grow.
The growing market for children’s cosmetics in China is being fuelled by a new generation of parents and the increasing number of children. According to Euromonitor, China’s children cosmetics market will exceed U$7bn in 2025.
In Tmall’s Global White Paper on Consumption Trends of Imported Maternal and Child Products, the consumer demand for children’s products is shifting from basic cleaning products to products such as sunscreen and skin care.
“The promulgation of the children cosmetics regulation is a clear signal that the NMPA supervision of children cosmetics will become more and more stringent in the future… Behaviours such as illegal additions, exaggerated or false claims will be effectively rectified,” said He.
She added that this sentiment was also shared by industry insiders, who were calling for stricter supervision to prevent misleading claims and misuse of additives.
Regulations that specifically target children’s cosmetics was announced in October and is set to come into force January 1, 2022.
According to China’s food and drug regulator, children’s cosmetics are defined as cosmetics for children aged 12 and under that claim to have functions such as cleansing, moisturising, body refreshing and sun protection.
The finalised version of the regulations included 22 articles that encompass labelling, manufacture and operation requirements among them.
It also outlined three formula design principles which called on cosmetic manufacturers to focus on safety, efficacy and minimalist formulations when developing children’s cosmetics
Specifically, NMPA is advising companies to use ingredients “with a long history of safe use” and avoid ingredients that are still under the monitoring period.
It also suggests that companies access the necessity of ingredients, such as fragrances and colourants. He advises that companies do away with such ingredients in their formulations.
“If it’s not very necessary, I do not recommend adding fragrances, colourants, preservatives or surfactants that may cause skin irritation or sensitisation to children.”